teenagersintokyo – Sacrifice (2010)


Following the release of their debut album, Sacrifice,  teenagersintokyo (and with all the irony of any indie band, they are not teenagers, nor are they from Tokyo…..) were named one of the fresh upcoming bands of 2010. Although there have been no new releases from the band since, they have managed to distinguish themselves from the modern Indie scene, with this art-pop, electro beat album.

Starting simply with the music; the bass is thick and explicit in pretty much every track, the guitars are sharp and the drums are edgy. Then on top, there is Samantha Lim’s fragile and nonchalant voice (often reminiscent of other bands on the scene like The xx), yet also sometimes exposing a darker tone of voice in the verses. Lyrically, the words suit the music, singing of how “I lose myself every time I stay out late night”,  but nothing other than that can be said about them. The second half of the album begins to feel as if teenagersintokyo are a cult of some sort , with the suicidal atmosphere of the darker keyboard chords kicking in, and the vocals becoming more desperate and fluctuating.  The music however, is nothing short of danceable and easy listening.

There is no denying that the album has a lot of 80s influence.  “Long Walk Home” recalls the synth lines of Joy Division, and the album as a whole is awash with the electro punk style of Siouxie And The Banshees. The opening track, “Sacrifice“, is not a great introduction to the band – it appears to have less substance to it than the rest of the album, mostly made up of a bass line, and the crying of “Sacrifice!” from Lim. However, once you get past that first track, the album starts to take on more of an identity. “End It Tonight” pretty much depicts that the band as having an attitude that is fearless and cool, and its relentless catchiness has inevitably allowed it to receive the remix treatment. Despite the “we-are-cooler-than you” edge of the album, it all ends on the track “3046”, which is a stark contrast to the others, presenting a softer and more relaxed side to their music – but is still one of the better songs.

Overall, the album is certainly memorable for about a few of its tracks; the others are mediocre or forgettable fillers. Teenagersintokyo prove themselves to be different from the bands that are often thrown under the sub genre of ‘Indie’, and although it draws heavily on the popular 80s styles, there is a fresh polish on Sacrifice which stops it from merely being a copycat album.

Best Tracks: End It Tonight, Isabella, 3046

65/100

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Brand New – The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me (2006)


Brand New are one of those bands that never do the same thing twice. Since their debut album ‘Your Favourite Weapon’ and it’s Pop-Punk style, to their sophomore release ‘Deja Entendu’ bringing a more Emo/Alternative Rock sound and finally to their third release ‘The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me.’ Although Brand New’s music is considered ’emo’, it isn’t anything like the stereotypes placed on the genre.

Jesse Lacey’s vocals and lyrics don’t fall into the ever-present pit of whiny-ness and complete self-loathing as many third-wave emo bands tend to. Jesse Lacey’s style of songwriting is often likened to Morrissey (The Smiths’ vocalist). Instead of the repetitive whining that is expected from a modern ‘Emo’ band, Jesse sounds genuinely in some kind of emotional turmoil. The age-old fight between good & evil, within himself.

The album opens with ‘Sowing Season.’ The track starts of quietly, with Jesse mumbling “Was losing all my friends/ Was losing them to drinking and to driving/” It then, seemingly without warning, moves between these quiet, melancholic clean sections to louder, more distorted sounding, rock-based choruses. This is a formula used throughout many songs on the album.

Two of my favourite songs on the album ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘Handcuffs’ stray from the formula. The latter being the only song on the album that was not written by Jesse Lacey. Instead, Vincent Accardi (Guitar, back-up vocals and piano) took care of the lyrics on it, and he did a great job. It probably fits the title of the album better than any other single song on the album.  The chorus saying “It’s hard to be the better man/ When you forget you’re trying/” It’s filled with a lot of things that he would do if there wasn’t something stopping him. Things like, “I’d drown all these crying babies/ If I knew that their mothers wouldn’t cry/” and “I’d drive my car off of a bridge/ If I knew that you weren’t inside/”
My favourite track on the album, ‘Jesus Christ’ is about Jesse being unsure about what he believes in. “Well, Jesus Christ, I’m not scared to die/ I’m a little bit scared of what comes after/” It’s one of the more radio-friendly sounding songs, though it’s clear that wasn’t what it wasn’t intended for radio-play.

The theme of death caused by drunk-drivers is brought up once again, in the album. The song ‘Limousine’ is about the 7 year old Katie Flynn who died in a car accident caused by a 24 year-old man who had just finished partying with some friends. She was on her way home from being the flower girl at her parent’s wedding. Katie & the limo driver both died on impact. Katie was decapitated from the impact, and when the police arrived they found her mother cradling Katie’s head in her arms. If you weren’t moved by that song, you have no soul!

This is definitely a top-heavy album, bar a couple tracks. The opening 6 tracks are far more interesting than the closing 6 [7, if you have UK version. ‘Luca (Reprisal Version) is a bonus on it], though they aren’t bad.
Overall, it’s one of my favourite Rock albums ever made. I credit this album as being the album that really got me interested in NRHH.

Standouts: Sowing Season, Jesus Christ, Limousine (MS Rebridge) and Handcuffs.

Overall: 90/100